The brand-new Audi RS5 makes exactly the same number of horses as its predecessor – 444! Does this mean, then, that its hasn’t moved forward?
The RS5 was Audi’s answer to the might of the BMW M3 and Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG. And to counter these two heavyweights it had a naturally aspirated V8 motor that shared its DNA with Lamborghini’s V10 engine. This enabled it to redline at over 8,000rpm and produce over 440 horses – more than the M3 of the time. All of this, of course, coalesced to make it the hot commodity that it was!
The brand new RS5 trades in its V8 for a V6 and twin-turbos. Interestingly, however, it produces exactly the same amount of power as before. Instead of a lunatic Lambo, it now shares its engine with the more civilised Porsche Panamera and Cayenne.
Does this mean, then, that the RS5 has gone soft? Well, in one word, no!
Following the ongoing trend of downsizing engines, the second-gen Audi RS5 is powered by a 2.9-litre V6 with two turbochargers. Although this RS5 Coupe continues to make 444bhp, like its predecessor, the turbochargers ensure that peak power comes in at a more accessible 5,700rpm. The torque rating, however, has increased substantially – from 430Nm to an impressive 600Nm, and peak torque kicks in from as low as 1,900rpm – and goes right up to 5,000rpm. Availability of all this power and torque lower in the rev range makes it very friendly, almost like your neighbour’s well-trained Labrador puppy. Even when Drive Select is set to comfort, the RS5 gains speed rather effortlessly – so much so that you’re doing illegal speeds before you know it. And when you switch to Dynamic mode, the car transforms from a Labrador to a Rottweiler. Acceleration is a lot more urgent, and the sweet sound from the exhaust simply gives you another reason to smile.
At 3.9 seconds, the new RS5 is 0.7 seconds faster to 100km/h than its predecessor. Enabling this ferocious acceleration is a reduction in weight of 60kgs. And helping put all this power down to the road is a new 8-speed torque convertor – replacing the previous dual-clutch transmission. This one is just as fast and responsive as before – in fact, it feels like it can read your mind – but it’s smoother than the erstwhile dual-clutch, especially at low speeds.
Around the bend
The heavy front-end, a typical Audi characteristic, was one of the biggest stumbling blocks for the first-gen RS5. Thankfully, the Ingolstadt-based carmaker has somewhat addressed this issue in the new version. We did tell you that it’s lighter than its predecessor by 60kgs, didn’t we? Well, half of this reduction is the result of the new engine. As a result of which the RS5 doesn’t understeer as much as before, which encourages you to go faster around corners. And then there’s the Quattro permanent all-wheel-drive system. Although in regular driving conditions the RS5 is marginally rear-biased, with 60 percent of the power being sent to the rear, in case of slip at either axle, the system immediately transmits power to the other axle. Like the previous-gen model, this too has a torque vectoring system that gradually applies braking force on the inside wheels, allowing you to put the power down harder and faster. While the RS5 really feels a lot more agile than before, as is always the case with fast Audis, we would have preferred better steering feedback.
Now, the best part of this Audi from a daily usability point of view is its ride quality. I must say I was pleasantly surprised by the way it tackles bad roads. Of course, it isn’t as plush as a regular luxury car, but judging it by the standards of a performance car, it’s definitely impressive. One thing that requires your attention, though, is the ground clearance – as the underbelly tends to scrape while traversing large speed breakers and potholes.
I was never a fan of the old RS5’s design – it was too understated for a sports car. But the designers at Audi have been sketching masterpieces of late, and the new RS5 Coupe is certainly one of them. While the first-gen model looked quite bulky, this one has sharp lines and sporty elements that make it look lean and mean – not to mention those stunning 20-inch wheels. And we really love the way those piano-black bits stand out against the blood-red shade of the RS5.
If you’ve had a chance to sit inside any of the newer Audis, you’ll find the RS5’s interior a bit familiar. The dashboard is identical, has great quality and is very functional. To ensure that the interior of the RS5 looks as sporty as the outside, Audi has made generous use of carbon fibre on the dash and centre console. The sport seats have great lateral support and are very comfortable. Massage functions also aid comfort considerably. Now, the new Audi RS5 is a lot of things, but it isn’t a car for four adults by any means. The two-door coupe has just enough legroom for two young kids at the back.
Pleases the head & the heart
Priced at Rs 1.10 crore (ex-showroom), the Audi RS5 is about Rs 20 to 30 lakh cheaper than its rivals, and that’s a lot of money – even for someone buying a car in this class. But a cheaper price tag doesn’t mean it’s any less impressive. The RS5 performs just as well as the M4, and even the more powerful C63 S for that matter. The composed manner in which it puts the power to the ground in union with the quattro all-wheel drive system makes it extremely forgiving – a word that can’t be used for its rear-wheel drive compatriots. Sure, it doesn’t have the raw power of Ivan Drago, but it does feel mature like Rocky Balboa. And no matter how many times you watch the movie, your heart always go out to Rocky!
- 2018 Audi RS5 Coupe
Engine: 2,894cc / 24-valves / V6 / twin-turbo
Transmission: 8-speed AT / All-wheel drive
Power: 444bhp @ 5,700-6,700rpm
Torque: 600Nm @ 1,900-5,000rpm
Price: Rs. 1.10 crore (ex-showroom)
X-factor: Extremely rewarding and easy to drive, you can push the RS5 without even a hint of worry.
• Mature performance car
• Competitive price